GREEN OR BLACK SKIN:
First of all: Don't Worry! Your ring is real sterling silver. I test all of my alloys to ensure that everything I sell is up to standard. Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver, and 7.5% copper. When I work the silver with heat, via either casting or soldering, a fine layer of copper will rise to the surface. I then clean the rings in a mild acid which removes only the copper from the surface. This usually means that the ring will have a total silver content of more than 92.5%. Next, if called for, I'll oxidize the ring to turn it completely black. After this step, the ring is sanded and polished to remove the black surface coating from all the high parts of the ring. My tire rings are a good example of this. After the final polish, the rings are steam cleaned to remove any polishing residue from the ring, and then get a final wash in soap and warm water. They are air dried and then inspected, packed and shipped.
If your ring turns your finger green or black, most people assume it is not real silver, and they would be wrong. Your friends or family may tell you that It is fake, but I assure you, that they too are wrong. As a jeweler who works every day with these metals, I am pretty sure I know the facts. Here are several possible reasons why a ring may turn your skin green or black:
The most common reason is that a small amount of copper remains in the surface of the alloy. As most of people know, copper DOES react to turn your skin green. Some people have this problem more than others. The acids and oils in your skin will react with the tiny particles of copper in the ring and leave a green residue. The solution: Wash the ring and your hands. I can also acid wash the ring again for you if needed. There is no charge for this. Often times simply by wearing the ring for a few days, and washing the ring and your hands between each wear, the problem will correct itself.
Another possibility is that the ring is reacting with soaps, lotion, oils or other foreign substances on your skin. These will have a similar effect on the ring as mentioned above.
Other possible explanations:
Many of my rings are oxidized. This is what turns the metal black. After oxidizing, I polish the ring heavily to remove the black parts from where I don't want them. The oxidized particles can re-activate when they come into contact with sweat, lotion, hot water or other activators which will cause the ring to turn black again. This in turn can turn your finger black or green. The remedy, simply re-polish the ring. After one or two cycles of this, it should stop.
Garlic: Eating garlic can also cause your skin to secrete oils which will cause your skin to turn black when in contact with the silver ring.
As long as the fingers are not getting itchy, or swollen, then this is no need to worry. You are not allergic to silver unless you get a red rash on your finger, and this is rare.
So why might one ring cause this problem, and another ring be problem free? The main reason has to do with how the rings are made. Hand made rings do have some human interaction and while I, and my fellow jewelers certainly try to make each and everything we make, as perfect as possible, not everything is going to be perfect. many commercially made rings will be plated in pure silver or rhodium after they are finished. This way the ring looks bright and shiny, and is less likely to have oxidation issues in the short term, but after a few years or so of regular use, the plating will wear off. For this reason, I do not plate any of my rings. This is why an inexpensive ring from ebay or amazon might not cause skin discoloration, while a handmade ring can. In fact, many cheap rings online are not actually silver at all.
I even had this problem with my own wedding band for about the first week that I wore it. Then after "breaking it in" I never have had the problem repeat itself unless I do something I shouldn't like wear it in the ocean or around harsh chemicals.
I use a Kee Gold Tester to test all of my gold supplies to ensure quality. I can assure you, everything is as I say it is. Guaranteed.
Oxidation is a process where the silver is aged at an advanced rate to achieve an even black surface finish over the entire piece. Sometimes I will polish the piece lightly to achieve a "gunmetal" finish which has a shiny grey appearance. Other times I will aggressively polish the piece to remove the black from the high spots to achieve a more rustic look.
Because I want you to build lifelong relationships with my customers, I offer free re-oxidizing on any of my own pieces of jewelry. I also offer lifelong re-polishing. Simply contact me with your request so that I can provide proper mailing instructions. I do not charge for these services but I do ask that you provide for the shipping costs, which for most pieces will only cost a few dollars both ways. The average turnaround time is only 1-2 business days. While the piece is in my possession, I am also able to perform other minor alterations or repairs if needed, and will quote these on a case by case basis, such as stone replacement, ring resizing, etc... Feel free to send me more than one piece at a time if you would like any extra services. Please contact me before sending anything so that I can provide a quote for the extra services and return mailing costs.
Above all, I want to have satisfied customers. Please contact me if my service is anything less than exemplarity or if you have a question regarding any of my current pieces, or custom creations.
In the end, please keep this in mind: Sterling silver is a wonderful metal, but it does have its limitations. It is a softer metal, and and will show wear more quickly than white gold. The oxidizing will also likely wear off over time.